New Market Homeowners Get Legal Aid for Land Fight

A community organizer from Virginia met with a group of New Market property owners over the weekend to offer the group legal services to fight a proposed Norfolk Southern inter-modal facility in the neighborhood.

Shireen Parsons of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund urged the group to organize county wide to convince Jefferson County government to oppose locating the facility on farmland and offered free legal advice from the group.

Parsons said her group has fought a similar facility in Montgomery County, Va.

John Emison, head of Citizens for Home Rule, also attended the meeting and told the group that fighting local government is time-consuming and expensive, so be prepared. Emison's group has filed hundreds of lawsuits to fight annexations, primarily in Knoxville.

Norfolk Southern is proposing the facility and a warehouse distribution industrial park on 1,300 acres alongside U.S. 11E. Local residents are trying to get the site moved to a brownfield industrial park already zoned industrial rather than take farmland.

Meanwhile, Congressman Zach Wamp, who represents the area and is running for governor, angered the group by suggesting it was a local matter. In a letter, he said he got funds to study a new exit on I-40 and design an access road but "government officials who are elected by the people of Jefferson County will decide the future of this project and the potential location based on the level of community support."